The expedition route, as currently planned, will cover over 20,000 miles in six months. The section of the expedition that includes Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan covers about 11,00 miles and must be completed within three months to comply with the Russian (three month) visa. That would average to about 120 (as-the-crow-flies) miles per day but every time that we stay in one location for more than a day, the lost ‘daily mileage’ has to be made up on another day. Actual driving mileage will be further than the as-the-crow-flies estimates.
One of the learning points from our 2012 Europe camping trip is that long days of driving minimise the opportunity to explore the places we pass through. Arriving at a destination in the late afternoon meant that we only had one evening to explore before departing the next morning.
On the Europe trip, we were driving a new Volkswagen Passat and sometimes drove at 160kph (almost 100mph). Driving a 200Tdi Defender, our cruising speed on highways will likely be around 60mph but on the rough tracks of Mongolia and other countries, speed would be much slower. On rough or non-existent roads, 120 miles could take 4-5 hours to complete. We’d rather experience the people and cultures of the places that we visit than merely pass through them in order to stick to a tough schedule. It may be that we have to shorten the route somewhat to minimise the daily mileage.
We still have plenty of time to consider the best route. Once we have completed our 2013 trip, actually driving the Defender, we’ll be in a better position to determine a comfortable daily mileage. With that knowledge in hand, we can make a more informed decision on whether to amend the route.